It has become even more critical lately to take really good care of your mental health. The world is almost unrecognisable, and we are spending a lot of time isolated from those we love. There is plenty of scary news to unsettle us, and it is not surprising more people are suffering from anxiety and depression. There are lots of things you can do to take care of your mental health, including relaxing, virtually socialising, and playing games with cognitive benefits. All of these are really important at this time of pandemic so let’s have a closer look at how to care for your mental health.
Be Kind to Yourself
There is so much going on at the moment it can be really hard to find any time to be kind to ourselves. If you are trying to work from home, home school children and keep the house running, and it is no surprise that you are going to find yourself exhausted, frazzled and even frustrated. Therefore, it is imperative that you take time to do something that you really enjoy no matter how small. Once the kids are in bed, maybe you want to paint your toenails, have a hot bubble bath, a glass of wine, or just relax with a film that you’ve seen hundreds of times before but still makes you laugh. Make time to do these things as they really do make a difference to your mental health.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are discussed so often it can often seem trite. However, the NHS still recommends both of these practices as an excellent way to help unwind, distress, and generally help to relieve anxiety. You don’t have to invest in any expensive products, and there are plenty of guided meditations available for free on sites such as YouTube. Even if you only spend 5 or 10 minutes a day to yourself trying to clear your mind and meditate you will notice benefits to how you feel. Mindfulness is more about trying to control your worries of things in the future that as yet are unknown. The fear that you may get sick is natural, but as long as you are following guidelines and staying home when you should be you have done everything within your power to minimise your risk and need to try and focus on the fact that today you are healthy. The buzzword with mindfulness is living in the present. Spending time feeling sad about the past or worrying about the future does not actually help you today.
Another critical factor is getting enough quality sleep. If you are spending a lot of time at home and therefore not exercising as much, it can be hard to feel tired enough to want to sleep. Instead, we feel mentally exhausted, and this translates to anxiety as we begin to turn over every concern we have as we lay wide awake in bed at night. Developing a good sleep hygiene routine can help create the perfect conditions to fall asleep naturally and easily. Key features include ensuring that your room is nice and dark, and not too warm. It is better to have a cool bedroom and wrap up in blankets. You should avoid mobile phones as these give out blue light, or at very least take advantage of settings offered by the phone manufacturers to ensure that you are not preventing your body from manufacturing melatonin. Try to go to bed and rise at the same time every day and ensure that you don’t drink coffee from about 4:00 PM onwards. Reading before bed, or a warm milky drink are both great ways to help relax the brain and get the body in the right frame of mind for sleep.
Talk to People
Millions of people live alone, and others may not have a happy home life and therefore finding this time even more difficult. Even if you have a happy family life, it is still important to remember that we are sociable creatures who enjoy the company of others. Thankfully the Internet has a range of tools to enable us to keep in touch with our friends. Even if you cannot actually meet up with your friends and go for a drink, you could have a virtual girls night using something like Zoom. You can also see and hear each other and have a drink as you chat about what is going on in life at the moment. Zoom dinner parties are again proving quite popular where more than one group of people prepare the same meal to eat together with The Internet set up so that they can see and chat with each other.
Exercise Your Brain
Playing games that provide stimulation for your brain can actually improve your cognitive function. It gives you something else to focus your mind on and stops you continually worrying about the same things over and over again. It can be really easy to get absorbed in a game and in some cases, this is actually a really good thing as your brain gets a rest. Games that require you to think laterally solve puzzles or think logically also get the grey matter working and help you to sharpen your focus. Several studies have shown that number games can also help us slow down the ageing process and keep our brains healthy for a lot longer.